Former Secretary of State Trey Grayson agrees with predictions that upcoming 2018 budget session could be "brutal"

12/01/2017 10:34 AM

FLORENCE – While the question remains when or if Gov. Matt Bevin will call a special session to address pension reform, former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson believes that something still can get done by the end of the year.

Grayson says indications are that work is going on among legislative leaders to come up with a revision of the original proposal that will get the majority of House members on board with the plan which would open the door to a special session to be called.

“My understanding is that earlier this week on Tuesday, there was a new bill that was presented to members of the Republican caucus for them to kick around a little bit,” Grayson said. “I could still see the governor calling a special session maybe the week before Christmas. That’s probably still a possibility if there’s enough traction for this bill.”

Many legislators have predicted that upcoming budget session will be “brutal” and might be the most challenging in recent memory.

Some House Republicans are continuing to deal with sexual harassment allegations and an ongoing investigation is being conducted to look into the matter.

While Grayson says that could be a distraction in coming up with a consensus for the pension plan, he believes that something can still get done.

“It’s not helpful but we’ve been talking about pension reform for a while, and very intensely over the last couple of months, so they can still come to an agreement and get a session and get it done,” Grayson said. “I certainly don’t think if there’s a bill that can get a consensus among the majority of the members, you can do this even with what’s going on.”

Many legislators predict that the upcoming 2018 budget session will be “brutal”, considering the increased pension contributions and the affects that will have on the overall budget.

While Grayson said that is a word which has been used from time to time prior to a budget year, this year’s prediction could be on the mark.

“Now that the legislature made the decision we’re going to address putting the amount of money we owe into the pension, and so we’ve had balance budgets over the years, but they really haven’t been balanced because you’ve been ignoring this pension obligation, so there’s no money,” Grayson said.

Another area of anticipation is the 2018 mid-term election.

Democrats say the year will be a tie of reckoning for the GOP, but Grayson, a Republican, says that there’s evidence which says that the GOP will continue to make gains in the state despite the recent sexual harassment allegations.

“The voter registration numbers continue to really move in favor of Republicans,” Grayson said. “Most months, The Democrats have a negative net number which means you have a lot of party switchers. Even while President Trump’s popularity nationally is not that great, it’s still pretty good in Kentucky, and you still see people continuing to flock to the Republican Party with their registration numbers.”

One race which figures to get a lot of attention is the 6th Congressional District race where Democrats, State Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, and retired combat aviator Amy McGrath, and Geoff Young have already announced their intention to run, while a fourth potential candidate, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is believed to be seriously considering a run.

Grayson believes that if Gray enters the race, he would be the front runner for the Democratic nomination.

“Jim Gray won successfully twice city wide and the congressional district is about twice as big as the mayor’s race, but obviously, people in Jessamine County know who the mayor of Lexington is and most people think he’s done a pretty good job as mayor,” Grayson said.

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